According to data collected by the CDC, suicide was the 2nd leading cause of death for youths aged 15-24 in 2019. The US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Agency (SAMHSA) identifies many reasons, “The causes of suicide are complex and determined by multiple combinations of factors, such as mental illness, substance abuse, painful losses, exposure to violence, and social isolation.”
Under the COVID-19 lockdown, social isolation for youths is at an all-time high. Emotions are the backstory behind all of the factors listed by SAMHSA; unfortunately, schools do not teach children how to process emotions. Substance abuse is often a way for individuals to self-medicate; it seems better to feel disconnected than to feel the emotions. Burying emotions is never a good answer; the emotional baggage stays with you, burrowing deeper into your subconscious and manifesting as an illness in later years.
Children aren’t the only ones who don’t know how to adequately process their emotions. Many emotionally injured adults act out in predictable patterns because they weren’t taught how to cope with the energy of the feelings they experience. We label these people based on their behaviors, putting them neatly into a box. We tend to forget that underneath their behavior is pain, which may be mixed with feeling marginalized by the labels applied by society.
What if we stepped out in love, choosing to see the humanity of the person whom we were so quick to label. When we see them through the eyes of love, we can forget the labels and speak with them as fellow humans.
I used to label my ex-husband because of his behavior. I was in victim energy and felt justified in pointing my finger at him. I didn’t realize that I allowed the behavior; I reacted to the behavior, which meant that I played a role in our drama. When I was in victim mode, I could only blame him; I couldn’t really see how I participated. A few months after I left him, I heard myself blaming; and quickly stopped. I didn’t want to be the kind of person who only blamed others for their troubles.
I now know that my reactivity was associated with my inner child wounds; until I processed those long-buried emotions, I would be doomed to continue playing in the drama. There have been many days when I wished to hide from the world, to make it all go away. Buried under pillows or blankets, I tried to avoid the pain I was feeling. It has only been in the last couple of years that I learned to truly process my emotions.
I learned to surrender to what is, acknowledge the energy of the emotions I was feeling, and truly accept that energy as part of my life. To process an emotion, be aware of it, acknowledge it, accept it. Donny Epstein calls it AAA; it is a valuable tool in his EpiEnergetics program. Emotions only have power over us if we are in resistance to them.